I would like to contribute to this research, so I will answer your questions
about OXYGEN, etc.......
It is well known that oxygen is not well characterized by EDX, especially
EDX done on old instruments. In fact, if you look in McCrone's book, which
was published in 1973, none of the samples show oxygen peaks! Thus we have
entry 432 "Zinc Oxide" which only has peaks for zinc! Clearly, the absence
of oxygen peaks does not mean the absence of oxygen in the sample! The
spectra in McCrone's book were probably recorded with an electronic "gate"
to eliminate low energy X-rays entirely. This was done because so-called
pulse pile-up of low-energy X-rays in first generation EDX instruments
caused detector saturation. Thus the low-energy peaks were not recorded.
This is why the lightest element reported in any sample listed in McCrone's
book is Na with an X-ray at 1.04 keV. Nevertheless, McCrone's Particle Atlas
remains a very useful source of X-ray data of dusts, minerals, etc.
Even using a modern EDX instrument I would be very careful about quoting a quantitative oxygen number. Why is this? Well, light elements like carbon,
oxygen and nitrogen emit very low energy X-rays ~ 0.5 keV or less. These
X-rays are not very penetrating and have trouble escaping from the surface
of the sample and passing through the window of the detector. However,
oxygen also tends to chemisorb on the surface of many materials, enhancing
the oxygen peak. The net result is that oxygen is not reliably measured by
EDX. For this reason I used Auger electron analysis, with a touch of
argon-ion sputtering to removed chemisorbed species, to quantify elements
like C, O, N, in fly ash. This technique does not use X-ray emission to
Now as for the particular spectrum in McCrones's book I forwarded to you, it was just one example of a combustion-related material that has microspheres
and high iron. I will forward the spectrum of the incinerator ash as well.
It shows microspheres and iron is present in significant concentrations too.
But please remember McCrone's sample was NOT magnetically separated. I am
quite sure a magnetically separated ash sample, such as the one you have for
the WTC dust, would show high iron by definition!
And one final point, my good friend Carrol Sanders has reminded me that fly ash is frequently used as aggregate in lightweight concrete, so microspheres may have been present in the Twin Tower's concrete even before the fires of 9/11. Given that so much concrete was pulverized during the collapse of the towers, fly ash debris would be present in large amounts in the rubble pile.
----- Original Message -----
From: Steven Jones
Sent: Monday, December 24, 2007 12:10 AM
Subject: Re: Query
1. As you read my query, you'll notice that I said I thought some sort of
cooperation could be worked out -- with you. When I made reference to those "hell-bent" on discrediting discoveries I was not thinking about you , but rather two or three others, out of perhaps a couple hundred collaborators I have worked with. I learned to be very careful before forming
At the same time, it is true I would have to get to know you better before
establishing a full collaboration if such were desired.
2. "Al : Si : S : K : Ca : Ti : Fe = 8 : 10 : 2 : 1 : 4 : 1 : 5"
a. Where is the oxygen? Oxygen is a major component of almost all the
iron-aluminum spheres in the WTC dust I have studied -- often the PRINCIPAL component.
b. How do these "fly-ash" spheres form, given the high melting point of
iron (about 1530 C)? Do the incinerators use forced-air?
Thanks for your comments, which I will consider more tomorrow.
1. The plot you provided is from burning COAL, not paper, plastics, wood
etc. Or are you saying there was coal in the WTC?
2. Where is the oxygen in the spectrum? The oxygen content is
significant, yet the spectrum appears to be skewed, cut off at low X-ray
energies... please explain -- how much Oxygen was present? Oxygen must be
present in a spectrum to provide a match with spectra I have shown -- not
the case in the one example you provided!
All of the iron-aluminum spheres I have found in the WTC dust show abundant
OXYGEN. Often O is the principal element in the spheres.
3. Can you get a Fe-O-K-Al-Si spectrum (with oxygen, O) and sphere
production from burning office materials? A few examples please -- if you
can do it.
4. This coal (your reference) was burned at high temperatures -- the
caption refers to "high stoker temperature." This is a significant
difference from the WTC fires -- or -- Are you claiming such high temps
occurred in the WTC fires? Hot enough to produce iron-rich spheres? (Iron
melts at 1538 C)
Reply sent Dec 25th:
So, Steven, may I review where we presently stand in this debate. You have carried out EDX analysis of samples of WTC dust and claim that two types of particles detected by you in the dust serve as evidence for the use of thermite/thermate incendiary devices during the destruction of the towers. These particles are microspheres and thin “chips” that are iron and aluminum-rich. Since thermite is essentially a mixture of iron oxide and aluminum, and spherical particles are evidence of melting, you believe that Fe and Al in microspheres can only be attributable to thermite residues. (Am I correct so far?)
Now here you have me at a disadvantage because you have not published or made any of your EDX spectra available to me. The best I have to work with are video clips of some talks you have given where you show some overheads of EDX spectra. If I am to really get to grips with your research I need to see copies of the spectra. And, by the way, I notice you immediately posted the spectrum I sent to you on 9//blogger, but did not post one of your spectra for comparison. Why not? My spectrum is from a book that is readily available in any good science library, but the same cannot be said about your spectra.
Anyway, to return to the debate, I have countered your argument that the WTC dust contains thermite residues with the suggestion that your particles are more likely to be fly ash from the combustion of materials in the Twin Towers. As evidence I have offered two examples of EDX spectra that I found in McCrone’s Particle Atlas. In one of my e-mails I gave you some approximate peak height ratios from these spectra as an indicator of the elemental ratios in the samples because the Particle Atlas does not give any quantitative analytical data.
I know full well that peak height ratios in EDX spectra are not directly proportional to the elemental concentrations in the sample. There are X-ray absorption and emission coefficients that need to be considered which are sample-matrix dependent. Nevertheless, peak height ratios do offer some approximate indication of the sample composition, especially for elements with similar atomic weights. Thus I have at least demonstrated that iron and aluminum-rich microspheres may be produced by the combustion of carbonaceous materials such as coal, wood, cardboard and paper.
Now I see you are quibbling about me sending you the spectrum of coal ash, asking me somewhat rhetorically: Was coal being burnt in the Twin Towers? Here, I would say you are missing my point which is that the mineral matter in natural carbon-based fuels forms an ash residue after the fuel is combusted that always contains Al, Si, K, Ca, and Fe – precisely the most abundant elements, (after the ubiquitous oxygen), in your WTC samples as revealed by their EDX spectra!
And here it is my turn to quibble with a statement you made in your Boston talk of Decembe15th, 2007. In this talk you compare the EDX spectra of red chips and microspheres found in WTC dust samples with the spectrum from commercial thermite and claim that all the spectra are essentially the same because they show peaks from O, Al, Fe, K, and Si. Now this is indeed quite strange because Si is definitely NOT an ingredient of commercial thermite. What is even stranger is that in your Boston talk you do not mention S as a component of the microspheres. Yet sulfur was so important to you just a few months ago – you know, back when you claimed that S was a key ingredient in the thermate variety of thermite used to demolish the Twin Towers. Now apparently, S has undergone a transmutation into Si! Perhaps this is why in your Boston talk you use the word “thermite” in place of your usual “thermate”. So what is it Steven: thermite or thermate?
But the presence of Si in your samples is indeed very significant because Si is always found in the ash produced by the combustion of wood, paper or municipal waste. So let’s focus on ash from these materials because wood, paper and municipal waste would be quite similar to the office combustibles feeding the WTC fires. Furthermore, municipal solid waste MSW combustor ash is well characterized. See for example:
Thus we see that MSW ash typically contains up to 21 % Si, 8 % Ca, 8 % Fe, 1 % K and 5 % Al. Spherical particles up to 60 microns in diameter have also been reported in MSW incinerator ash formed when this type of waste material is burned at ~ 1000 deg C:
There is also considerable data available on the properties of ash from the combustion of pulp and paper waste. See for example:
Here we find that Si, Al, Ca and Fe are the main elements found in ash produced by burning pulp and paper wastes. In addition the major portion of the fly ash thus derived is formed as molten droplets of fused inorganic material found in the as-received pulp and paper feed. It is reported that fusion of minerals such as quartz, feldspar and clay results in the formation of glassy spherical particles.
So, Steven, I think you need to eliminate all of these naturally occurring spherical particles that are routinely formed in office fires – particles like your WTC microspheres that are rich in Si, Al, Ca, Fe, and K - before you start suggesting that such particles could only come from thermite, (themate?) combustion residues.
----- Original Message -----
From: Steven Jones
Sent: Monday, December 24, 2007 11:16 AM
Subject: High temps needed to form iron-rich spheres, meaning of ratios
"Only the very lowest melting substances form spheres." -- quoting directly from the figure caption of the spectrum you sent. I agree with THAT comment. The caption also mentions "metal foil" as part of the incinerated material, and I suspect melted aluminum would be present. NOT melted iron! Which leads again to the question I posed to you yesterday, based on the first spectrum you sent, which you seem to have thus far neglected:
4. This coal (your reference) was burned at high temperatures -- the caption refers to "high stoker temperature." This is a significant difference from the WTC fires -- or -- Are you claiming such high temps occurred in the WTC fires? Hot enough to produce iron-rich spheres? (Iron melts at 1538 C)
With regard to the lack of oxygen peaks in the older EDX machine you showed, I understand the difficulty these machines had -- and accept your explanation that an older EDX system was used for these spectra. The version I am using was installed very recently and is state-of-the-art. I will ask the lab director how good the oxygen percentages are in this new system.
Meanwhile, this new system does provide percentages of Fe, Al, Oxygen, etc.
So I have to ask -- what is the meaning of the ratios you provided, e.g.,
"Al : Si : S : K : Ca : Ti : Fe = 8 : 10 : 2 : 1 : 4 : 1 : 5"
When you answer this, we can make more direct comparisons with the percentages provided by the new EDS system. (Take your time as I'm traveling to be with family for Christmas. Merry Christmas! btw, and I wish you a speedy recovery as a friend tells me you had surgery recently.)
Thanks for the conversation.
PS -- some time ago, we crushed a concrete sample obtained from the WTC rubble, used magnetic concentration, and looked for iron-rich spheres. There were NONE found.